updated 03:14 pm EDT, Wed June 6, 2012
Street view goes off-road, improved accuracy for Google Maps
Google today revealed an array of new features and improvements for Google Maps. In addition to the recently announced offline maps for Android, an update on the Official Google Blog brings news that Google Maps' Street View will add views of areas inaccessible from the road. Google is also expanding its user-editable Map Maker feature and rolling out 3D models of major metropolitan areas in Google Earth.
The new Street View Trekker will allow Google to photograph areas accessible only by foot. This will let the company integrate views of places such as the Grand Canyon into its Street View system, making such areas explorable from users' desktops and mobile devices. The company has already sent out employees strapped with Trekker devices to photograph a number of off-road locations.
On the accuracy front, Google is expanding access to its Map Maker function, giving users in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland the ability to generate their own maps to improve upon Google's own omissions and errors.
For Google Earth, the company will soon begin introducing 3D models of entire metropolitan areas for both iOS and Android devices. The models were built using a combination of new imagery rendering techniques and computer vision to produce 3D cityscapes from 45-degree aerial imagery. Google claims that there will be 3D coverage for a number of major metropolitan areas by the end of the year.
Google first hinted that the company had something new planned for its popular mapping service last week with an invitation to an event promising "the next dimension" of Google Maps. The enhancements to Google's mapping program come after news of Apple expecting to drop Google Maps for a native mapping application in iOS 6.